I love how much space there is, and how places are never crowded. It's still insanely cold, which I think is unusually cold for Montreal at this time of the year. Yesterday morning was only 15 degrees, which is a huge drop coming from hot and muggy Tokyo. I really hope it warms up as I don't have anything to wear, but it's a nice break from the heat. My skin and hair finally look normal and not acting up like in the Japanese humidity. I always feel so dirty in Japan, no kidding.
I feel like a stranger in my own home; even though I speak the language and understand everything (which feels so amazing), I keep forgetting the social 'rules' and I've been feeling quite anxious about it. I keep forgetting we have to tip here after a meal at the restaurant. Even cafes have tip jars by the register. The thing that surprised me the most is that prices are rounded up, which wasn't the case when I was living here. For example, I bought something that came up to 16.02$, and I handed the cashier 16.10$ in cash (so I would get minimal change back), but he said it was unnecessary, as they round it down to 16.00$. If it would be 16.03$, they would round it up to 16.05$. So I guess they eliminated pennies?! I'm late on those news. I feel especially stressed out about this rounding up thing, but thankfully, Canadians are forgiving if you don't know the rules, and I had a laugh about it with the cashier. He must have thought I was an idiot, perfectly speaking the language but not knowing the basics.
I'm used to being in Japan where there are so many social rules to follow, and after 5 years I finally learned most of them and can coexist without standing out too much. Canada doesn't have much social 'rules', everyone does as they please and I have to get used to that. I got stuck behind the exit turnstile at the metro, because I didn't remember how to get out. You just have to go and push, but I kept looking for a place to enter the ticket. I couldn't find it and I was too embarrassed to just try pushing (how Japanese of me), so I stayed there for a few minutes, lost and confused. I'm frustrated by how ridiculous the payment system is for the metro, it's so complicated with that Opus card that you can't just simply charge. You have to pick which kind of access you want, like evenings only or weekdays, etc. It made me feel thankful for Suica and Pasmo!
Montreal is so beautiful, especially the streets of Old Montreal, and the apartments lining Parc Lafontaine, Le Plateau Mont-Royal and even the McGill Ghetto (which isn't an actual ghetto!). There are trees everywhere, and the homes look great on the outside, and I bet they're decorated just as nicely on the inside. So many people ride bikes, and there are many bike lanes. Strolling through Parc Lafontaine, I noticed so many people running, doing yoga, or just playing guitar and having picnics, on a weekday. Life is so slow here, and so relaxing compared to what I'm used to in Tokyo. Many Montreal people are very active, but I noticed many overweight people too. However, the majority seem so confident with their bodies, judging by the clothes they wear.
I also like doing laundry, it's so quick with the washer and dryer, and everything smells so good. I love the kitchen space, and just the home space in general. I kept telling my mom that her kitchen is twice the size of my Tokyo apartment, but she doesn't believe me. Although I'm not sure if I'd ever be happy in Montreal, I can't help but appreciate the high quality of life, something that is missing in Japan, at least in my case.
I'm getting ready for a weekend of BBQ'ing and seeing one of my oldest friends, who now has a toddler and a baby on the way, and perhaps trying my hand at driving a car. Surprisingly my Canadian drivers' license is still valid, I just had to update my photo, and I'm good to go (although I don't think I should be trusted to drive further than my street). Next week I'll be staying in an Old Montreal apartment, to be closer to the fun stuff.
Now if you allow me, I'll go flip through the huge pile of affordable English magazines I found at the bookstore- I gasped when I saw 5$ for Vogue, and not 30$!
|How I missed those breakfasts!|
|How pretty is that?!|
|Notre-Dame Cathedral in Old MTL|
|SO MUCH street art around the city|
|Gorgeous Parc Lafontaine- Adrien, this one's for you!|
|Metro view from the top|
|Gate of Chinatown|
|Poutine at La Banquise!|
|Le Cartet, some amazing Illy coffee|